Improved Efficiency of Geothermal Ground Improvement System


Lehigh University has developed a method for constructing geothermal foundations to improve their efficiency.  The innovation uses previous concrete pilings with integral open or closed loop geothermal heat exchangers for use in soft soil building foundations.  These pilings will be shallower than those used for deep foundation heat exchange, however there will be more of them used.  The concept has the potential to be applied to controlled modulus columns using a closed loop approach and can extend geothermal exchange systems from the established deep foundation industry into the ground improvement industry where it has not yet been adopted.


Lehigh Tech ID#022012-01



Global construction output is expected to grow nearly 70% between 2011 and 2020 with a market value growing to $12 trillion. This increase in construction will influence the number of geothermal heat pumps installed worldwide, which is expected to be around 5.66 million in 2015. This is especially true as green home construction is encompassing more of the market (up to 17% of the US residential home market). [1] Geothermal heat pump systems are robust and ultra efficient, with a typical system increasing efficiency 300% to 500%, meaning that for every unit of energy put in, three to five more units are gained. [2]  The largest markets for geothermal heat pumps globally are Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the US. [3] In the US alone, shipments of geothermal heat pumps are expected to double from just less than 150,000 in 2011 to over 326,000 units by 2017. [4]


[1] “Quality and Value Driving Growth in the Green Building Market -- According to New McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Report on Green Homes and Remodeling.” PR Newswire web site. (accessed May 7, 2012).

[2] “A Guide to Geothermal Heat Pump (GHP) Investing, Part I.” Alt Energy Stocks web site. (accessed May 7, 2012).

[3] “Global Geothermal Power and Heat Pump Market Offering a Promising Growth Rate of 14% by 2015.” PR Newswire web site. (accessed May 7, 2012).

[4] “US Geothermal Heat Pump Shipments to Double.” Renewable Energy Focus web site. (accessed May 7, 2012).



Lehigh University is initially interested in identifying industry partners.

App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date
Provisional [PR] United States 61/676,446 7/27/2012   7/27/2013
Energy and Environment
For Information, Contact:
Alan Snyder
VP, Research & Grad Programs
Lehigh University
Muhannad Suleiman